Micheal Martin: a far-seeing bird?

Micheal Martin reminds me of the Skibbereen Eagle. Not in appearance, more in tone and self-image.   You remember that newspaper’s famous declaration in 1914: “We give this solemn warning to Kaiser Wilhelm: The Skibbereen Eagle has its eye on you”.  Micheal is a wee bit that way too.  In his speech at Arbour Hill last Sunday, Martin announced that the British and Irish governments had taken their eyes off the North, showing “a clear and dangerous lack of commitment”. 
Well, well. He’s right but sort of in the same way that I’m right when I look out my window at 9.00 am and announce that it’s daylight. When the northern state was formed, Britain passed over the running of it to unionist politicians and what followed was fifty years of discrimination and gerrymandering. During that same period the southern government – almost always Fianna Fail – made patriotic noises at regular intervals but did nothing to right the wrongs of the north or to make any movement towards the realisation of the goal of unity it claimed to revere. And of course when the crisis came in 1969 Jack Lynch, the Fianna Fail leader in whose footsteps Micheal would one day follow, announced that south could not stand idly by. Which it then proceeded to do. 
Micheal has declared the north’s political institutions to be in a  “dysfunctional state” and that this provides a dangerous vacuum. The Irish Times this morning features his warning and accepts it unquestioningly. This, from a party leader in the south where under Fianna Fail the state crumbled under the weight of  corruption and mismanagement, leaving future generations to pick up the tab.  
A blind man on a galloping horse could tell you what Micheal is really concerned with in his Arbour Hill analysis. He wants to underscore the ‘Republican’  in his party’s strap line ‘The Republican Party’, and in doing so lay claim to be the party that really cares about all of Ireland, not just the southern state. In other words, to win back those southern voters who currently see Sinn Féin as the only party which gives a damn about Ireland as distinct from the 26 southern counties. 
Will it work? Well, when the SDLP abandoned its post-nationalist stance and emoted about its concern for the entire country, it didn’t work. The voters looked at them and then at Sinn Féin and decided to go for the real thing rather than the lite version. It’ll be interesting to see in the next opinion polls if Micheal’s Arbour Hill speech makes a difference. My guess is it’ll prove more of a cock sparrow than an eagle.  

10 Responses to Micheal Martin: a far-seeing bird?

  1. Danny Morrison April 25, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    I agree with your analysis but I wouldn't be so sure that some in the southern electorate would not be gullible enough to fall for it. There are differences, north and south. The SDLP's position in 2001 – that we were living in a 'post-nationalist era' was delusional. That was the year Sinn Fein overtook the SDLP and scored its highest vote since the foundation of the state.
    I would argue that the nationalist electorate in the North is probably the most politicised on this island because of what it has come through.
    Micheal Martin's stance is one of 'nationalism' not post-nationalism because he thinks opportunistically that there are votes in quoting Tone and Pearse in the run-up to 1916. By the way, I found on my old website this piece about the time and place the SDLP fell…

  2. Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I fear you're underestimating the gullibility of the electorate.

    This after all is former minister in the most shambolic government in the State's history and yet he can question ethics, economics, corruption and even the peace process without fear of being called a hypocrite. All the while, FF rise again.

  3. Jude Collins April 25, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Danny – Ah West Tyrone and 2001 – how young we all were then…Having watched a recording of Oliver Stone's 'Untold HIstory of the United States' last night and particularly the siege of Stalingrad, I can't help but smile at the image of Brid and Alex and the SDLPers as fearless Russian citizens resisting bombardment. As to the gullibility of the south's electorate: sad but true. After all they've been electing FF or FG for the last near-100 years.

    Anon 11:24 – you and Danny appear to be making the same point. At the same time, the southern electorate does show some signs of disillusionment with Labour. But yes, the resurrection of FF is perhaps the most depressing single event in Irish politics today.

  4. Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    Even allowing for the cynicism and opportunism of Fianna Fáil , it will still be a quantum leap for the Sputhern voters to place their trust wholly in Sinn Fein.Its a good time for the Shinners to be in opposition down south but its quite another thing for them to be seen as a credible governing party there with Gerry Adams as leader.

  5. Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    With due respect,you are not unlike the Skibbereen Eagle yourself.Ever on the lookout for anybody who would dare to question the credentials of your beloved Sinn Fein. There's no doubt that Fianna Fáil have major credibility questions especially in the economic area but they still have lots of troops on the ground and are unlikely to want to take lessons in morality from S F.

  6. giordanobruno April 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Such contempt for the people, from Danny Morrison et al and sadly Jude agrees.
    The idiot voters in the south hardly deserve the wise and beneficent rule of Sinn Fein.

  7. Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Do Jude and Danny ever disagree !?They both obviously have happy memories of 2001 when presumably they were sorting out the enemy S D L P in West Tyrone.

  8. Anonymous April 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    It would be unwise to count all the Sinn Fein chickens before they are hatched.I'd imagine Michael Martin will put up a bit of a fight for the “Republican” vote.

  9. Anonymous April 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Any update on Micheal and Fianna Fáil after their Ard Fheis ?Would you agree that they are more likely to benefit from voter discontent than Sinn Fein?

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